Alzheimer’s affects 5.8 million people 65 and older. In 2050, that number may be close to 14 million.

March 26, 2020

The Washington Post

By Linda Searing

March 16, 2020

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia among older adults, now affects about 5.8 million U.S. residents 65 and older — 10 percent of that age group, according to a new report from the Alzheimer’s Association.

Age is considered the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s, with 3 percent of people 65 to 74, 17 percent of those 75 to 84 and 32 percent of people 85 and older — or nearly a third — having the disease. By 2050, the number of U.S. adults 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to reach 13.8 million, with about half of them 85 or older.

The association’s report attributes the growing number of Americans with Alzheimer’s to the projected aging of the U.S. population, with the West and Southeast regions of the country expected to experience the largest increases in the next five years. Sometimes, people under 65 develop what is called early-onset Alzheimer’s, but that is much less common.

Although there is no known average age for the onset of Alzheimer’s, symptoms tend to be noticeable in the mid-60s, with memory issues typically one of the first signs. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, can alter mood and personality and eventually disrupts the ability to carry out simple day-to-day tasks. Hallucinations, agitation and aggression are common symptoms as the condition advances.

Although there is no cure for the disease — or even drugs to slow or stop progression — some medications can temporarily improve cognitive or behavioral symptoms. Non-medication therapies — exercise, music to stir recall or special lighting to ease sleep disorders — also can be helpful, but the report says that they also do not stop or slow the disease.


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